Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cheeseburger "Hot Pockets"

You ever find something in the freezer you forgot you had in there? Sometimes it's like finding treasure, other times it's like that episode of Cowboy Bebop with the mold-covered fridge. I keep my fridge pretty clean, partly because I'm always hungry and partly because I don't like messes, but with the freezer you can just put things in there and forget about it.

Long story short, I found some puff pastry from 2001. That's... a long time ago... but it's just dough, right? If I develop some weird disease I'll let you know, but it worked and tasted fine to me.

So what to do with this puff? Well, Alton Brown had a recipe in Good Eats: The Early Years for a chicken pot pie with curry powder. He said to bake it in a baking dish, and place small circles of puff on top, as a sort of crust. So I made that, and it was good.

But there was still one more sheet! Luckily my man AB had me covered; he did an entire episode on puff pastry! The salmon turnovers sounded good, but there were a lot of ingredients. A note to the side of the recipe held my answer: "My favorite puff filling? Manwich mix and cheddar cheese." Yes.

Homemade Cheeseburger Hot Pockets

1 lb ground beef, or anything else would work, too
1 can Manwich/Sloppy Joe sauce
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp (for egg wash)
grated cheddar cheese

Thaw the puff on a towel for 30-40 minutes, and heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

1) Brown the meat in oil.
2) Drain the meat if you want, then add the mix to the meat.
3) Place 1 tablespoon of meat filling in the center of each square. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese as desired.
4) Brush inside edges of puff pastry with egg wash and fold over to make a triangle. Seal the edges by pressing down with the tines of a fork. Poke a slit or two in the top of each turnover. Brush tops with egg wash. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
5) Cool for 10 minutes before eating, they're hot!

Easy, no? Here's some tips:
-You don't want to overfill the puff pastry. Make sure you leave enough room around the edges to seal it. 
-You'll have LOTS of sloppy joe meat left over, so buy some rolls or more puff or something.
-Monitor the puffs in the oven to make sure they don't burn. Mine only took 20 minutes to cook.

The only problem I found working with puff pastry that's 9 years old is that it's very hard to work with. Maybe if I let it thaw longer it would have gotten more flexible, but after 45 minutes it was still stiff as a board. So instead of making triangular turnovers, I just cut each third of the sheet in half, and made three turnovers from that by making "sandwiches" with rectangles of puff and meat filling. Bam, instant Hot Pockets!

Mmmmmm, so good. Flaky and moist puff, savory ground beef, and sharp cheddar cheese. Not healthy at all, but 10 times better than Hot Pockets. Thank you, Alton Brown.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Mind of Robert E. Howard

I read this entry over on Scans_Daily today, which features a comic called "'The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob'. They are stories about Howard's life, drawn from his letters, biographies and friends/lovers memories." I've never read any Conan the Barbarian before (though Korgoth of Barbaria was awesome), or seen the movie (though my friend always tells me I need to), but just reading these stories about him has gotten me interested. This one story really struck me, as I'm sure it does anyone who's interested in creating things.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Golden Boy - new OP with Big Black

I saw a commercial the other day that pissed me off. I can't find it now cause I forget what car it was advertising (way to go, ad people) and I haven't seen it since. Good riddance.

The premise was this: some girl is on a blind date with a young guy in a suit. She rushes out of the café, telling the guy she has to go cause her ride is there. She gets in her friend's car, and they start giggling (as women tend to do whenever they get together). The girl tells her friend, "He said he was a student... of life. Single lane ahead, that's where I'll be."

Sigh... you silly woman... you just passed up on pre-dropout GOLDEN BOY!

I'm guessing he was still in law school cause he was wearing a suit... but maybe he had a job where he was wearing a suit.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Super Mario Bros. Afterlife

Click for the big version.

Oh yeah, I rock at Photoshop. Apologies to Nintendo and Snapple.

I used to love the Mario games. Super Mario Bros. 3 was the first game I played, and my dad taught me all the tricks. I even enjoyed Sunshine. But New Super Mario Bros. on the DS was bad. Real bad. The only reason I finished it was because I just had my wisdom teeth removed and I was out of commission for a few days. It was like they weren't even trying. "Hey, what new things should we add to this game?" "How about Mario becomes gigantic and destroys everything in his path?" "Okay great, meeting over. Send that shit to print."

Galaxy actually looks like fun, but I haven't played it yet. I'm just surprised they went straight from an island to outer space; it'll be hard to ONE-UP themselves now (pun intended)!

ETA: Of course now I find out they actually are making a second Galaxy game. I could change the 2 to a 3, but it still works.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Braid, Machinarium and Samorost 2 box art

For Christmas, I gave my brother Machinarium, Samarost 2, and Braid.

Since they're downloads and didn't come with boxes, I took some old computer game boxes and made some box art.


None of this art is mine, of course. I used the art from the games and patched it together in Photoshop. The hi-res images that came with Machinarium and Samorost 2 were of great help, and so was David Hellman's Braid Graphics Briefcase.

They're all great games, and last I checked they were super-cheap. Samorost 2 was nice and short, and I've only played the Machinarium demo, but I bought Braid for myself and it's really great. And hard. I'm still stuck in world 4, I think.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Black Bean Soup

I think soup gets a bad rap. When you think of fancy food, you usually don't think soup. Maybe it's because it's so easy to make; you just throw everything in a pot, let it cook, and you have a meal in a bowl. I bet people in the middle ages made soup a lot; just throw whatever junk you have in a pot, and it becomes edible.

Most places I eat, soup is reduced to a line on the menu. You've got French onion, which is rarely done right, and soup of the day, usually whatever leftovers they want to get rid of.

But soup doesn't have to be watery and bland! This bean-based soup was filling, full of flavors, and nice to look at! Plus is was soooo easy, the only "work" was cooking the bacon and chopping the onion and cilantro. I found it on the Food Network site; I didn't know who Dave Lieberman was, but over 250 ratings couldn't be bad. You can find it here, but I'm copying it for posterity.

Black Bean Soup

10 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
4 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish
Grated cheddar, for garnish

Put the bacon into a large heavy pot and place it over medium heat. Cook until it starts to give up its fat, about 4 minutes. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder. Stir in the beans, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, pick off all the thick stems from the cilantro. Wash it and shake dry. Chop the cilantro coarsely and stir it into the soup when it has been simmering 10 minutes. cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with the garnishes.

I used turkey bacon, cause I like the flavor. I only needed one onion. I also got whole canned tomatoes and chopped them into big pieces. I loved the taste of cilantro in this. And if you're anything like me, you'll add sour cream and lots of cheddar cheese.

That's a Saranac Big Moose Ale, which is great. I had it from their 12 Beers of Winter sampler.

Oh yeah, and I fried a plantain and had it with vanilla chip ice cream for dessert. Yum.

Don't forget to click for bigger pictures...silly Blogger.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spicy Corn Bread

Winter is the time for baking, and quick breads are one of the easiest things to bake. In the recipe (in this book), Mark Bittman says corn bread is one of the most important recipes he knows; kind of like the "Chopsticks" of cooking, in that everyone should know it, but it tastes better. Here's the recipe as I made it.

click for a close-up of the deliciousness

Corn Bread

1 1/4 c buttermilk, milk, or yogurt
2 Tbsp olive oil (he says you can also use bacon drippings, might try that next time!)
1 1/2 c medium-grind cornmeal
1/2 c AP flour (I used whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar, plus more if you like it sweet
1 egg

Optional ingredients: I added chopped scallions and parsley, mostly for color, some grated cheddar cheese, 2 tsp of cumin and a little chili powder. I also sprinkled some sugar on top before sticking it in the oven. Do whatever you want!

Preheat oven to 375. Place olive oil in a medium ovenproof skillet or an 8-inch square baking pan over medium heat until nice and hot, about a minute, then kill the heat.
Combine the dry ingredients. Mix the egg into your liquid, and stir the liquid mixture into the dry. Combine until wet, adding more milk if needed. Pour this into your preheated oil pan/skillet, then put it in the oven for 30 minuted, or until the top is lightly browned and the sides pull away from the pan.

I was a little worried cause it didn't rise much, but it smelled so good baking, and tasted even better fresh out of the oven. This is really the kind of recipe you can memorize and prepare in less than ten minutes. I just eat  it warmed up with some butter, but it might be good with some kind of soup. I might just have to make one...